Venture capital firm Obvious Ventures announced the close of its first fund, raising $123,456,789. The firm exceeded its initial target of $100 million and, according to cofounder James Joaquin, decided to have a bit of fun by settling on the uniquely sequential figure.
Obvious Ventures envisions a world where our buildings will create more energy than they use, where food will promote health, and where the tools currently available to big business will be afforded to companies of every scale. It hopes to target companies creating “positive social and environmental benefits with every dollar of revenue they earn.” Obvious Ventures has dubbed this ethos as its “#worldpositive” approach. According to the team, Obvious Ventures are “product designers and company builders first, and we are on a mission to help fuel startups that combine profit and purpose.” When it comes to the bigger business market, the firm sees these #worldpositive start-ups has having a competitive edge over other businesses due to their sustainable positive impact, profits that further their purpose, and margins that drive their mission.
To date, Obvious has eleven portfolio companies with more additions to be announced in the coming months. An average investment from the firm runs between one to three million dollars.
Obvious Ventures targets three key sectors: people power, healthy living, and sustainable systems. People power focuses on finding ways to provide smaller businesses with the same high-powered toolbox as large corporations. Obvious Ventures lists Change.Org among its current People Power investment roster, the world’s largest social change platform, along with two other companies, Breezeworks and Magic Leap.
Healthy Living piggybacks on the ever-increasing consumer trend toward products that promote health and wellness. For this portfolio, the firm is looking to add startups “that are pursuing massive improvements in human health, wellness, and performance across nutrition, fitness, and medicine.” It currently has two investments in this category: Olly and Miyoko’s Kitchen.
Sustainable Systems highlights opportunities that unlock new ways of creating, consuming, and repurposing our resources. Ultimately, this sector targets startups that seek to “enhance value and planetary impact across big markets like real estate, agriculture, and transportation.” One of its current portfolio companies is the AgTech company Beyond Meat, which hopes to “perfectly replace” animal protein with plant protein. According to Joaquin, the Los Angeles-based company has developed products that provide the same texture and taste as beef and chicken that are made entirely from plants.
Part of Beyond Meat’s goal is to reduce the environmental impacts of factory livestock farming. According to Obvious Ventures, Beyond Meat is producing protein that is ten to twenty times more “calorically efficient” than how animal protein is produced.
Although some folks may not be ready to swap their filet mignon for a plant-based alternative, the increasing number of startups dedicated to sustainable agriculture alternatives shows substantial promise in this subsector. The fact that companies like Beyond Meat, Hampton Creek, Modern Meadow, and Impossible Foods have not only secured funding, but have also garnered attention from a premier, powerhouse VCs shows more activity could be on the way. We are interested to see whether Obvious Ventures uses some of its new cash to make additional plays at the convergence of agriculture and sustainability.
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